Cartoon expletives

In cartoons characters such as @$#%& are symbols of expetives. Where did these come from and is there a proper way to place the characters so that they become different expletives?

I think they were just used because you usually don’t see those particular symbols in cartoon dialogue. And there’s no set pattern for them either.

In other words, @#$%! off.


Like I’m steering clear of a thread with THIS title? Nah. :smiley:

It’s called “masking” in the Internet Chat world. As far as I know, nobody’s ever set a pattern down. Which is not to say that we couldn’t start. But, we’ve a bit of a congestions problem these days, so let’s not muck up the &%@$#*&^% works, shall we? :stuck_out_tongue:


I remember that the video character Q-bert said “@!#?@!” whenever he got bonked in the game, verbatim. What that actually meant is still a mystery.

I would venture that the practice dates back to hot lead linotype machines. The special characters were the only non-blank symbols available straight off the keyboard to create the appropriately suggestive psuedo-letter groups.

For the very best examples of @#&£!?! expletives, read an Asterix comic. You’ve got skulls, swirly patterns, wounded swirly patterns, woman being chased by a wolf… and as far as I remember the expletives always had different looks for whichever language was being used, i.e. a Roman, a Gaul, a Pirate, and so on would all swear with different symbols.

The symbols actually have specified names (at least, Mort Walker has named them and it seems to be part of the industry):

The balloon is a “maladicta balloon”
The typographic symbols are “jarns.”

There are also the “quimp” (looks like the planet Saturn), “nittles” (like asterisks), and “grawlix” (a scrawled and unreadible bit of text).